Now the first thing to say is that I am not a social media guru. I don’t pretend to have analysed every network, and tried out every channel. Neither am I up to speed with the latest up-and-coming sites. I don’t spend all day on social media, but I do spend some time, and I do believe that it is time well spent (as long as you’re sensible about it). I have got business and earned real money through engaging with people on social media, and that’s good enough for me.
In other words, I’m probably exactly like you and 99% of other business people.
However, the way I am wired encourages me to keep things simple and effective – I don’t believe in excessive effort in order to obtain a result. I call this efficiency – my kids call it being lazy. I’d argue about that, if I could be bothered.
So, here is my distilled five-point social media system:
1. Stick with the herd. There’s no point going off and setting yourself up on some new network that nobody is using. Stick to the big ones – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and maybe Pinterest. That’s enough to be going on with, surely?
2. Work out how often you need to interact on each network. I guess Facebook and Twitter need to be pretty consistent. LinkedIn and Google+ less so – maybe a few times a week?
3. Set the time out, so you can control it. Because I work with databases and stuff like that, there are often five minute gaps while something runs or updates. Use those little bits of downtime to pop a few comments onto Facebook, or fire off a tweet.
4. Be careful of automating posts – I tried that and it came close to embarrassing. I set up a feed to pull off posts about a topic I wanted to be seen to be talking about. Firstly I found myself posting a lot of recruitment adverts, so I had to filter those out of the alert. Then I got asked a couple of times if I was reselling something because I was posting press releases! After a few weeks I switched it off.
5. Measure the results. I have a look at my website analytics to see how much traffic is coming to the site from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on. I share stuff like these blog articles using Twitterfeed, which tells me how many clickthroughs I have had from the various places to which I post. That’s about it. I don’t get into the heavy statistics – in the end I care only about the interactions that enable me to build relationships with people. If I see I’m getting a lot of attention from (say) LinkedIn I will be a bit more lively on there for a while, perhaps.
If you sell a ‘product’, then you may want more detail than this, and that’s fine. I work on the assumption that when you provide a business service, as I do, that it’s a people game – people employ people. Therefore I just need to be seen as a person, which takes me back to why it was a bad idea to try and automate social media posts.
As well as being a people game, it’s a numbers game. Again, if you sell something, you may want as many people as possible to buy it, and that’s fine – your strategies will be different to mine. I just need a handful of people who are going to employ me or refer me, and this goes back to the marketing concept that you require an ‘inner cirle’ of referral partners, probably fewer than ten, who can keep you busy if you cultivate the right relationships.
I’ve said before that I think that social media should be treated exactly the same as a physical meeting. You meet new people (so, yes, you do connect with people you don’t already know personally as long as there is some sort of logic in doing so – perhaps mutual contacts or geographical location) and you get to know them. You don’t expect to get business out of them in the first five minutes unless, as a friend of mine put it the other day, you are the type who walks straight up to someone in a bar and asks them to marry you! It might be an idea to have a drink first …
I think the most important point is consistency, though. Like all of us, I drift in and out of social media, depending on what else is going on. That’s not good – you will vanish from people’s radar in no time at all if you are not paying attention to your online presence. You can analyse it if you go on holiday, or take some time out. Website hits will fall, and you will be passed over and forgotten – it only takes days. So keep at it – little and often!
Good luck, and I look forward to seeing you out there!